Feb 25, 2010

Hallmark

Today I went to the PX to pick up a few birthday cards. If you have ever been card shopping with me, you know that I am easily amused by greeting cards. I have often laughed out loud while reading Hallmark's best. However, today there was no laughter, no giggles, not even a smile. Why do the people who write greeting cards feel the need to rhyme? If I called you up to wish you a happy birthday I seriously don't think I would rhyme, actually I know I wouldn't rhyme. And just because I'm getting you a card and you are my friend, that doesn't mean we have been friends for a long time or we are such good friends that I can't think of anything else but you on your birthday. Some people deserve a birthday card but quite frankly they don't light up the world with their inner beauty and charm. Sometimes, I just need a darn card that says "Happy Birthday." I managed to find one of four cards that I needed, but I'm not proud that the card mentions dog poopy.

Feb 24, 2010

Written on the Wall

When you walk into our living room you will be greeted by two hyper boys extremely excited that we have guests in our home, probably some dirty socks on the floor, a few dishes in the sink, and our media wall.
As you can see, there is a big TV, speakers, some books, photographs and a large quote burnished on the wall. It states "Ich aber und mein Hause wollen dem HERRN dienen." Literally translated it says "I but and my house we will the Lord serve." and the NIV version is "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
There it is, fairly large, and right as you walk into our house, we display a proclamation of our family's mission statement.
Recently, some friends stopped by and noticed the writing on the wall. One of my friends understands a little Deutsch and stood there looking at the wall trying to translate the statement. After a few minutes she asked for help. I gave her both the literal and commonly understood translation and then there was a brief pause. I don't know what she was thinking, but my mind was filled with questions. Is this a surprise to her? Would she have known that we are followers of Christ if I didn't have it burnished on the wall? Does she think it is just a Christian thing to say but not something to really follow?
We took the statement from the German bible because we thought it would be cool to have Deutsch words on the wall since we are in Deutschland. It wasn't until I translated them out loud for the first time that I realized the gravity of putting the statement in Deutsch: each time someone comes into my house they will likely have to ask me what the quote means, and each time I will stand before them and say the words "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
A lot of people may say "I'm a Christian" or "I believe in God" but "I serve the Lord" doesn't come up in casual conversation very often, at least not in mine. Somehow putting these pretty words on my wall has challenged me to make sure that they are true. I hope anyone that comes into my house and sees these words will think to themselves "well obviously you do".
I realize it is just words on a wall, but it reminds me of someone getting a tattoo of a girlfriend's name and then they break up. Oops. How embarrassing would it be to walk around with the word "Shirley" all fancy on your left arm while your current girlfriend Tammy is walking on your right?
It is simple writing on the wall, but it is has become a reminder to me to ensure that it is also written on my heart and revealed in my life.

Feb 21, 2010

Highlights

This past weekend the family went to Garmisch, Germany. It is a little ski village/horse pasture on the border between Germany and Austria. The websites don't put a hard sell on the horse pasture thing, that is just a little hidden bonus when you get there. The city is at the base of the Alps and it is truly a beautiful place, even with all the horse poo.
One of the best things about this trip to Garmisch is that it was paid for by the Army Chaplaincy. How exciting is that? 2 night's stay at the Army "resort" in Garmisch, 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts and a lunch all paid for. We added on an extra night so we could take full advantage of our time there. We had a fabulous weekend. We went sledding, played in the indoor pool and outdoor hot tub, I enjoyed a hot stone and swedish massage at the spa while the boys had a full day of ski lessons and Matt took on the slopes snowboarding. We also squeezed in a few marriage "training sessions" which was the official reason we were there.
Some highlights of the trip include:
Eli Sledding: we all went sledding but Eli took the sport to a new level. He pulled his little sled all the way up this hill we found (in the middle of a horse pasture), he plotted his path, and took off. What he didn't see was a little bump about halfway down the slope. His speed coupled with that little bump made for an awesome jump. He hit it fast, flew into the air, hung there for a second or two and did an awesome flip. For a minute it appeared that he was going to land this and then start training for the Olympics, but then gravity took over and he landed hard, no longer on his sled. I don't know how it all happened but I do know his boots flew off his feet, his sled continued down the slope, and he ended up face planted in the snow about 5 feet from where he hit the jump. Did my baby cry? Nope. When I got over to him I was freaking out asking if he was OK and telling him I was so scared and he looked at me with great concern and said "sorry mom". Then his little eyes started to tear up and he said "mom, I got snow in my shirt". I cleaned it out, snatched his boot for him and off he went to retrieve his sled and head back up the hill. He is awesome!
Skiing: Skiing was also a great time for the boys. We dropped them off at ski school around 8:30 and let someone else teach them the ins and outs of skiing. Throughout the day Matt and I would ask each other "do you think they are doing good?" or "do you think they are having fun?" All those questions were answered when I picked the boys up at 3pm. Eli was swooshing down the hill making great turns and even taking on the little jump they had and Gabe wasn't crying. I thought for sure Gabe would get frustrated and end up coloring in the play room at ski school but he stuck with it and worked really hard. He had a much more difficult time catching on, but he did really well too. It was so great to see both of the boys on the little hill having a blast.
The boys had such a great weekend. So far most of our trips have been about Matt and I, but this one was really a great time for them. They played hard sledding, skiing and swimming.
The last highlight of the trip was picking Matt up from his day of snowboarding: He ended up going to a different lift because the one near where the boys were skiing broke. After the boys' lessons we grabbed a snack and then headed over to this other lift. The place was really busy and I was seriously concerned about how I would find Matt. We were only at the base of the lift area for a few minutes when I looked over and noticed Matt unbuckling his board. I said "guten tag" and we all pummeled him with hugs. There was just something really sweet about being there when he finished his day, the sun was shining, the alps were behind us, and here we were as a family at the end of a very enjoyable day. Unlike any ski slopes I have been to in Ca/Nv this place has an incredible atmosphere at the base of the slope. Instead of everyone piling into the lodge, here, people just skiid down to the base of the mountain and settled in for music, food, drinks, and fun. We pulled up a bench and sat down for a few minutes to talk about our day before heading home. Germans were singing and dancing to the music played over the speakers, smells of brats and pommes filled the air, and the sun shone down over these huge mountain peaks to give a little warmth. It was like a little party. The atmosphere was fantastic, celebratory, and just down right enjoyable.
It was a good weekend start to finish.

Feb 17, 2010

Life is a Musical

Matt and I spare ourselves and our friends and family embarrassment by not taking our dancing/singing show on the road, or anywhere outside the walls of our house, but when we are at home there is a good chance we will break out into song and bust some moves on the dance floor.
Musicals are infectious. All it takes is someone saying one line of a song and look out, we've got karaoke. Last night, somehow we got started with the first song from Aida, and an hour later we were finishing with the last act of the musical. It just happens. We are transported back to the theatre when we first watched the show. The actions play in our head as if we were there again. Somehow we go on about our business, paying bills, playing video games, cooking dinner and keep the show going on in our head. The power of the music paired with a great story is just compelling.
We are really in it for the singing. Dancing is not really our strong point, but when you are in your own little musical, let's face it some dancing is required. Not that we are that fabulous in the vocal department, but our dancing is bad. Really bad.
A few nights ago we were working out some moves and Matt made me laugh so hard I cried. Surprisingly, I wasn't laughing at his moves, but what he said about mine.
What you are about to read is the total truth. I can't even try to make this stuff up.
So, I switched out my flannel jammies for my "dancin' pants", as Matt called them, and I was doing a little number on the dance floor when Matt looked at me and quite seriously asked "how do you not fart when you do that?"
I laughed so hard tears were flowing from my eyes. He was completely serious and it wasn't until the words came out of his mouth that he realize how odd and funny his question was.
Then he proceeded to copy my trick moves and fart while he did it. Apparently, if Matt raises his hands above his head, it makes him fart.
I tell you this story not to embarrass myself or my husband, though I'm sure I just did, but just to give you a little window into the wackiness that takes place in our little apartment. We may not have 180+ channels of TV or a local Hollywood Video but we got ourselves some serious entertainment.
So later that night we hit the hay and just as we were settled in, I started laughing. I was replaying the scene in my head and just couldn't contain myself. It was funny. It was fun. And I was reminded at how blessed I am.
I'm blessed to have a husband who I can have fun with, to be silly with, and enjoy life with. I'm blessed that I really don't have anything to stress about, there isn't anything weighing us down, which gives us the time and freedom to just be us - as bizarre as we may be.

Feb 16, 2010

I Spy with my little eye...

Last night I opened the fridge and this is what I saw. How ridiculous is this?
1 Brita water filter container
1/2 gallon of 2% Organic milk (it lasts longer)
1 nearly empty container of apple sauce
a pickle jar with 1/4 chunk of pickle and juice
2 yogurts, frosting, tube of french bread dough, mayo, tub of butter, tortillas and jelly.
Everything else in the fridge is either meat or cheese.
Can you count the containers of meat and cheese? Not only are the contents of the fridge sad, look how disorganized it is. Who has cheese on every level of the fridge?
The answer? 8 meats and 7 cheeses.
From the top, left to right: smoked turkey lunch meat, colby jack slices, cream cheese, shredded cheddar, ricotta cheese, hot italian sausage links, pork chops, ham lunch meat, 2 week old london broil left-overs, pepper jack block, salami slices, pepper jack slices, pre-cooked southwestern seasoned chicken strips, post Valentine's Day prime rib roast marinating, and more colby jack slices.
Can anyone say "heart disease"?

Feb 14, 2010

Fry Baby

I want a fryer.
I owned a fryer once but it was so gross that I couldn't figure out how to clean it enough to pack it up for a move, so I tossed it.
Now, they have really cool fryers with lids on them so you don't splatter grease everywhere. Those are cool. I don't know that they could be cleaned and packed any easier but they are still cool.
Why do I want a fryer? Because some things just taste soo good deep fried: fish, french fries, donuts, Schneeballen, hushpuppies, shrimp and so much more. Contrary to my Southern friend's beliefs not everything tastes better fried, pickles being one of those.
I want a fryer, but I cannot buy one. Sure, I could spend a small fortune on a 220 fryer, but then I would have to use it and that would be disastrous. Disastrous for two reasons: hot oil and I don't mix well (kitchen fire of '95 proves that) and I'm still trying to lose that 10 pounds I talked about back in 2008 and having the capability to fry a donut or six for myself every morning is not going to help that situation.
One day when I have 110 appliances again and have the will-power to resist consuming large amounts of fried pastry I'm getting a fryer.

Feb 10, 2010

Some Gave All

Last Wednesday night around 7pm local, a UH-60 Blackhawk was on approach to Coleman Airfield in Mannheim, Germany when something went terribly wrong. The aircraft never made it to the airfield, but went down in the woods a few miles away. All three crew members died.
Every time we lose a member of our Army Aviation family, whether we know them personally or not, it is tough. It is a reminder of the dangers of this job and the uncertainty of life. This one was particularly challenging for Matt, as he had to work at the crash site on a few occasions and saw first hand the devastation that occurred.
The days that followed the crash have been filled with questions, some answers, and a lot of speculation. There is a burning desire to know what went wrong, so that it could be prevented from happening again. And there is a sickening knot in our stomachs as we think of the family members who lost a loved one: the wife who has the burden of comforting her children when she herself needs comfort, the kids who have lost their dad, and the parents who lost a child. Tomorrow is the Battalion memorial service for the crew. It will be a time for family, friends, and fellow aviators to remember these soldiers who gave all they had, their life.
Gone but not forgotten: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Gary M. Farwell, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Clayton M. Hickman and Specialist Matthew E. Clark.

Feb 6, 2010

White out.

When your handy GPS flashes a traffic alert that tells you there are "whiteout conditions, with less than 100 meter visibility for 75 miles" along your planned route, it may just be a good idea to take a different route or turn back.
Matt has been working nights the past few days so I have been left with the nearly impossible task of keeping the kids quiet during the day so he can sleep. By 10am the task is unbearable and it is time to take the party on the road.
Today, I decided to take, OK drag, the kids to an antique mega-shop down near Nuremberg. I packed lunches, grabbed movies for the kids and loaded my ipod with the last few chapters of my audio book, and we were off.
About 10 miles down the road I got a traffic message about the above mentioned "whiteout" conditions. I hit "ignore" after deciding that it must be referring to some other area because there was not even a remote chance of snow on the radar for the next few days.
About 20 more miles down the road I found myself in those whiteout conditions and I learned that "whiteout conditions" doesn't have to have anything to do with snow.
When there is snow on the ground and the clouds or fog is so thick that it is actually white, you can't really tell the difference between the ground and the sky. That my friends is a whiteout.
It was beautiful and eerie all at the same time, not to mention downright dangerous. I know there are trees, hills, and little villages along the autobahn where I was driving, but I couldn't see them, not even a hint of there being anything in the distance other than more white stuff.
We arrived at our destination safely, found a lot of fun things there but didn't buy anything I was looking for, stopped in Rothenberg on the way back home to get some snacks and coffee, and then jumped back into some even more ridiculous whiteness.
I could see enough of the road in front of me to keep my speed up and we never encountered any accidents on the road, but next time, I'm adhering to the warning.

Feb 5, 2010

POA

For those of you who are military spouses, you know what POA is. It is that treasured slip of paper that you fold up into a pocket-sized square and take with you every where you go.
Power of Attorney=POA also known as the golden ticket. It allows you to legally sign your husbands name and basically "be" your husband with regards to all legal and financial issues.
Or does it?
No it doesn't. While the document provides proof that your husband has authorized you to do whatever you want in his name, it doesn't require someone to accept it.
I sold a house using a POA, rented an apartment in Matt's name with a POA, got a passport for my kids, signed up for medical insurance, tackled numerous cell phone, water, electric and gas bills issues and countless other things all with the little paper. However, today at the bank I was not allowed to pay off an auto loan with my POA. I can sell a house and take possession of the profit, but I cannot find out the balance on a used car loan in order to pay it off? I'm stumped.
I had my ID, POA, and an old statement showing the account number and balance for the loan and cash to pay it off, but Service Credit Union would not tell me how much Matt owed on the loan in order for me to pay it off. The kicker . . . this is a Credit Union located on a military installation and 99% of its customers are active duty military. I would guess that at least half of the customers are deployed or have deployed in the last 6 months and yet they have some whackado POA policy for paying them off.
So, I'm left to ponder a very important question . . . has anyone ever taken a banking institution to court because the bank allowed someone else to pay off their loan? If so, was it something like this:
Smith vs. Service Credit Union. Bob Smith is suing SCU for allowing Joan Smith to eradicate Bob Smith's debt without permission . . . other than a signed POA.



Feb 2, 2010

Muu'Muu's

While walking through the PX (the Army's lame attempt at Target) yesterday, some dresses hanging on the back wall caught Gabe's eye. He said "mom look at those HUGE dresses!"
I explained to him that those brightly colored, long, oversize dresses were muu'muu's. To which he replied "why would someone want to wear THAT?"
I laughed as I recalled the countless Aunties in Hawaii sporting their muu'muu's and told him people usually wear them because they are comfortable.
He was still simple baffled and said "like a snuggie?"
I gave in. Yep. Like a summer snuggie - looks pretty ridiculous but it is darn comfy.


Feb 1, 2010

Monday

It started off a typical Monday. 7am the alarm went off and I loathed the idea of getting out of bed. And that was the last thing typical about this day.
We decided that Eli wasn't going to go to school since he was awake and coughing all night, so I rolled back over at 7:05 and stayed snug in my bed until the kids woke up.
Monday is a heavy workload for Gabe's homeschool, we start off strong and fizzle out by Friday. So, I turned today into "Bring your Brother to School Day." Gabe and Eli each found some workspace in the school room and we started off with the calendar, pledge, and memory verses. I had to find different assignments for each of the boys for reading, writing, and math, but we all sat together for science, bible and German. It was actually a little fun.
I just ordered some curriculum for the boys to work on for summer school - they don't know it yet- so today's school time was a great sampler for summer school. I'm actually looking forward to fending off the summer doldrums by starting off each day with writing workshop and German.
After a few hours of school and a quick bite to eat, it was time to head to the doctor. Eli's minor cough and congestion turned into big hacking spells ending with some bloody snot rockets. Yuck. I know. So, I took him to the doctor.
Now, I should mention that I am not one to take a kid to the doctor for every little thing. As far as I was concerned, he had a cold. No fever, no lethargy, no signs of anything more than the common cold . . . until the bloody business. So, I reluctantly took him in.
The appointment was at 12:50. I was called into the room at 1:15 and then I sat in the room for 30 minutes waiting for the doctor. If I were just waiting in an empty room it would have been more tolerable than sitting in the room with a young private who's qualifications I am still unaware of. He started with the weight, height, blood pressure and temperature and then . . . he played doctor. He asked about 100 questions, listened to Eli's breathing with a stethoscope, looked at his throat with the little popsicle stick, and even donned some gloves to feel his neck. If he were an actual doctor, this would make sense but this guy is not a doctor and everything he did was a complete waste of everyone's time. Once he was done with his exam he told me "I'll go tell the doctor you are ready." What? I've been ready! I was ready at 12:40 when I showed up 10 minutes prior to my appointment time. I was ready at 1:15 when he finally brought me out of the waiting room into the office. And I was surely ready at 1:20 after he took Eli's vitals when a real doctor should have come into the room.
After an evaluation by the real doctor, it turns out Eli has a little wheezing and he probably has some bronchial something or other. Drugs ordered, prescription picked up and out the door at 2:05. People give birth to babies in less time.
We left the doctor's office and were greeted by a shower of the largest most beautiful snow flakes ever and a nearly empty tank of gas. So, I headed across the street to the gas station, filled up the van and went in to pay and get my ration card checked off. The very nice man who was assisting me with my transaction managed to lose my gas ration card. I very sweetly proclaimed that he didn't give it to me, and he kindly requested that I check all my pockets because he was very confident he did. There was a lot of pocket searching, looking around aimlessly, and about 10 pairs of eyes glaring at me for stopping all gas purchase transactions. I wasn't leaving so he started wracking his brain a little harder and then he decided to check another lady's gas folder. Sure enough he put my esso card in her folder and she was heading out the door. Esso card in folder, id card in wallet, gas in van, snow on road, meds ready for consumption, time to go home!
Thankfully, I'm married to a man that appreciates a dinner of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches because at 4pm I'm in my jammies, with a warm cup of joe, and no plans of extending myself to make anything else for dinner.
Oh Monday.